Welcome to Episode 199 of Lucretius Today. This is a podcast dedicated to the poet Lucretius, who wrote "On The Nature of Things," the only complete presentation of Epicurean philosophy left to us from the ancient world. Each week we walk you through the Epicurean texts, and we discuss how Epicurean philosophy can apply to you today. If you find the Epicurean worldview attractive, we invite you to join us in the study of Epicurus at EpicureanFriends.com, where you will find a discussion thread for each of our podcast episodes and many other topics.
This week we continue our discussion of Books Two of Cicero's On Ends, which are largely devoted Cicero's attack on Epicurean Philosophy. "On Ends" contains important criticisms of Epicurus that have set the tone for standard analysis of his philosophy for the last 2000 years. Going through this book gives us the opportunity to review those attacks, take them apart, and respond to them as an ancient Epicurean might have done, and much more fully than Cicero allowed Torquatus, his Epicurean spokesman, to do.
Follow along with us here: Cicero's On Ends - Complete Reid Edition
We are using the Reid edition, so check any typos or other questions against the original PDF which can be found here.
As we proceed we will keep track of Cicero's arguments and outline them here:
This week we continue in Book 2 at Section VII, with Cicero continuing to insist that "Freedom From Pain" is something different from Pleasure, with Torquatus responding again and again that they are the same.
VII. Lest you should suppose that the words only differ, I say that the things denoted are also two. Freedom from pain is one thing, possession of pleasure another; you attempt not merely to compound out of these two things, diverse as they are, one single term (for I should find that easier to endure) but to roll the two things into one, which cannot possibly be done. Your philosopher, who approves both things, was bound formally to adopt both, as he does in fact, without distinguishing them in words.
After several weeks of quick editing, this week has fallen back to a more normal time period. Should be complete by Saturday and hopefully sooner. In the meantime the first of several notes.
- At the 30 minute mark Joshua comments about use of the term tetraphamakos in the ancient world, but said he wasn't sure of the cites. I think we've looked this us previously as to where that word occurs, but for the moment all I have is this from the Wikipedia entry:
The name cannot be traced further back than Cicero and Philodemos. Pamela Gordon, Epicurus in Lycia: The Second-century World of Diogenes of Oenoanda, University of Michigan Press (1996), p. 61, fn 85, citing A. Angeli, "Compendi, eklogai, tetrapharmakos" (1986), p. 65.
-- We've probably got this covered somewhere in a private post so if someone recalls the exact cite and how that cite uses the term it would be good to add that in this thread.
Philodemus, PHerc 1005, column 5:8-9: Pros tous [ ... ]
μένο̣[ν] ἡ τετραφάρ[μα-] (tetrapharma-
κος (-kos)· 'ἄφοβον ὁ θεός, ἀν[ύ-]
10ποπτον ὁ θάνατος καὶ
τἀγαθὸν μὲν εὔκτητ̣ο̣ν̣,
τὸ δὲ δεινὸν εὐεκκα[ρ-]
Episode 199 of the Lucretius Today is Now Available! This week we return to our coverage of "On Ends" Book Two, and we summarize several aspects of where we are in the discussion.
Thanks for that - so it appears that 1005 5:8-9 is where both the word and the for lines appear, and that papyri.info page seems like the best place to send people for the reference (many of my old Oxford links no longer work).
So BOTH the single word and the four lines appear on fragment 117?
... which looks like thison that page (I can't find a way to have a direct link to that part of the page.
Fabulous episode everyone! Very much enjoyed listening to this one.
I wanted to share something I've noted before, but it's appropriate to revisit here.
Various English words are used to describe the person in the texts referenced in this episode: profligate and prodigal and sybarite.
- Ex: Cicero: VIII. What propriety then is there in saying: I should find nothing to blame, if they kept their passions within bounds ? This is as much as to say: I should not blame profligates, if they were not profligates. (Reid)
- Ex. Epicurus: Therefore, whenever we say repeatedly that "pleasure is the goal," we do not say the pleasure of those who are prodigal and those stuck in delighting in pleasures arising from circumstances outside of ourselves like those who are ignorant, those who don't agree with us, or those who believe wrongly; but we mean that which neither pains the body nor troubles the mind. (My translation)
But...What's the Latin and Greek word used for profligate?
The Greek in the letter to and PD10 is ἄσωτος (asotos) and Cicero's Latin uses asotus (basically just the Latin spelling for the Greek ἄσωτος). Interestingly, this is the same word (used as an adverb) used to describe the "prodigal son" in the New Testament:
Luke 15:13: “And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. (ζῶν ἀσώτως = living prodigally, living riotously)"
It's the same sort of mode of living that Cicero rails against, over and over and over, ad nauseum, to use a Latin phrase.
However, I find the meaning of ἄσωτος interesting.
ἄσωτος = "having no hope of safety, in desperate case; in moral sense, abandoned; and so spendthrift, profligate"
It's literally ἄ + σωτος = ἄ "no, not, un-" + σωτος "save, rescue, keep safe, heal"
So, ἄσωτος literally means "un-saved, un-healed, un-rescued"
Being that it's the same word that's used in Luke 15:13, it seems to carry the potential of redemption or the ability to be saved from yourself so to speak. Someone un-healed can be healed, someone un-saved can be saved. So, they may be unwisely following pleasures that lead to more pain, but they can be saved from their "profligate" ways and shown a wiser path.
Cassius also mentioned in passing whether it was the drinking parties that were strung together or all the list of activities listed in the letter to Menoikeus. It appears that it's specifically the drinking bouts and festivals. Here's an excerpt from my translation:
Pertinent line: 132 - οὐ [γὰρ] πότοι καὶ κῶμοι συνείροντες
- πότοι is plural of πότος "drinking-bout, carousal" (from πίνω "I drink")
- I find it interesting that Epicurus uses the word πότος (potos) and not συμπόσιον (symposion) "symposium, drinking-party." He wrote a book or dialogue entitled Symposium in which he wrote "Even when drunk, the wise one will not talk nonsense or act silly." So, Epicurus didn't seem to oppose drinking wine or attending drinking-parties. There seems to be a distinction between πότος and συμπόσιον, possibly with the difference being one of emphasis on drinking versus conviviality.
- κῶμοι (kōmoi) plural of κῶμος "a village festival: a revel, carousal, merry-making, Latin: comissatio." They seem to have involved crowned revelers parading the streets, bearing torches, singing, dancing, and "playing frolics."
- οὐ συνείροντες (ou syneirontes) literally "not stringing together" (as beads on a string)
- "not an endless string of drinking parties and festivals…"
- Note that he doesn't say you can't attend drinking parties or take part in village festivals! He's saying life shouldn't be an "endless string" of them. That's going to lead to more pain than pleasure in the end.
This episode is another good place to advocate for Dr. Pamela Gordon's The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus! She does an exquisite job showing how Epicureans came to be associated with gluttony and food and such. Well worth reading!!
I also enjoyed hearing Kalosyni say, "I'm beginning to dislike Cicero more and more." I couldn't agree more!